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We consider a “Repair” to be any change to our weather and water hazard messaging system that could be implemented relatively quickly via policy and/or minor software change(s).

In both Fall 2016 and Spring 2017, the Haz Simp project team asked NWS partners and the public to comment on a series of proposals to reduce the number of products issued for certain hazard types and simplify the format of  NWS Winter and Flood products.  The reformatting proposal uses a consistent message format: “What”, “Where”, “When”, “Additional Details”  and “Precautionary/ Preparedness Actions”. 

These proposals were developed based on multiple social science engagements, including focus groups, surveys and the 2015 Hazard Simplification Workshop. Considered together, the feedback on our consolidation and reformatting proposals have been consistently positive, so we are now planning to move forward with implementing these changes.  

Here are the specific Winter elements we plan to implement starting this Fall:

  • Consolidate Lake Effect Snow Advisory and Freezing Rain Advisory into Winter Weather Advisory

  • Consolidate Lake Effect Snow Watch and Blizzard Watch into Winter Storm Watch

  • Consolidate Lake Effect Snow Warning into Winter Storm Warning (selected sites only)

  • Reformat all Winter products into a “What, Where, When, Additional Details, and Precautionary/Preparedness Actions” format

The second set of changes, which will apply to all flood products nationwide, will be implemented late winter/early spring 2018:

  • Consolidate Flash Flood Watch into Flood Watch

  • Reformat all Flood products (including River Point products) into a “What, Where, When, Additional Details, and Precautionary/Preparedness Actions” format

For our partners, all winter advisory products would be issued under the "WW.Y" Valid Time Event Code (VTEC), all flood advisory products would be issued under the "FA.Y" VTEC code and all flood watches would be issued under the "FA.A" VTEC code.

In addition to the winter weather and flood product consolidation and reformatting, we also plan to survey on similar changes to the product suite for other hazards, including for marine, wind and extreme temperature hazards.


We have examined some options for how we depict our hazards on national and local maps. Currently, National Weather Service (NWS) utilizes a map on its national website ( to depict the wide variety of Watches, Warnings and Advisories (WWA) issued for weather, water and other hazards that impact life and property. NWS uses 124 individual Watches, Warnings, Advisories and other Statements to specify the nature of individual threats, along with their immediacy and severity.

As possible options, we have created two different types of maps for comment; both of which will feature four possible colors. On the first optional map, the Watches, warnings and advisories are converted to yellow, red and orange, respectively. Purple is assigned to certain warnings that receive “Emergency” status.

The following is a static example of how our first optional map will appear. Static map examples are also provided in the survey at the link above, but you may view live versions of the current WWA map and the two optional maps side-by-side at this link:

Our second optional map also uses a four-color approach and a static example is provided below. However, this time, the colors are assigned based on our assessment of expected impact. The colors yellow, orange, red and purple are assigned to “Limited Impact”, “Moderate Impact”, “High Impact” and “Extreme Impact” respectively.

Important Note: In the case of Watches, the color is assigned based on the expected impact if the hazard was to occur.

As a general note, the direct conversion of today's suite of WWA messages to individual impacts on this map will not always be fully descriptive, as observed impacts at the local level are dependent upon a variety of factors. These factors include (but are not restricted to) community vulnerability and exposure, as well as hazard location and time of day. However, the initial purpose of making this option available for comment is to assess reaction to the idea of displaying factors other than WWA titles on a hazards map.

Click here for a listing of how we converted the current 122 colors to the 4-color system for each map option. For both options, the specific hazard message in effect will be viewable by placing your mouse over the map.

All aspects of these maps are subject to change based on the feedback we receive. For example, you may have comments on the colors we assigned for the hazards shown on the impact-based map - we welcome your feedback!

There are no plans to discontinue the current hazard map on the NWS homepage at this time. We will advertise any planned changes widely via this site, the NWS web page, and via a variety of partner and media outlets.